Jonathan Rea says he’s content with a triple of second places but has concerns about the pace gap Alvaro Bautista was able to produce at the opening World Superbike round at Phillip Island.

Bautista was able to storm to a dominant hat-trick of wins on his World Superbike debut equipped with the new Aruba.it Racing Ducati V4 R with reigning champion Rea finishing runner-up in each race.

While Rea put up in an impressive fight against Bautista in the new 10-lap sprint race, he couldn’t live with the Spaniard’s pace in the two main races and was trailing by over 15 seconds at certain times in both.

Rea feels the pace deficit is a worry ahead of the 2019 season, with the Ducati’s clear top-speed advantage of almost 20kph on the Phillip Island home straight, but was pleased to leave the opening round with his trio of second places.

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“I am a little bit disappointed in the classification because the gap to the front is too much,” Rea said. “We expected a really difficult race here. I have always had to fight for results here, so to come away with three second places, a pole position and an outright fastest lap in the Superpole race. I am satisfied.

“We made a little change from yesterday, to make the bike a little bit calmer, and I feel we achieved that. Our race time was faster than yesterday and I am happy with the results of the weekend.

“Of course, there is definitely still work to do. We could not risk a bit more today than yesterday. After race one, in Parc Ferme my tyre was almost the best, but I rode a slower race.

“Lots of other guys were having issues, so today with the temperature going up in the final race I had the same frame of mind, trying to get to the end of the race and not abuse the tyre.”

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